Psalms 1 - 50by Mike Raiter
Shame is a powerful human emotion. In many cultures, the avoidance of public shame, or the loss of face, shapes human behaviour more than anything else. People will lie, steal, or even kill, rather than suffer shame. David's prayer in Psalm 25 is ″do not let me be put to shame″ (v. 2).
Once again, the context of this psalm is opposition from David's enemies (vv. 2-3, 19), but this is not his main concern. More than any shame he would suffer if his enemies triumphed over him, David fears shame before God. In the Old Testament, shame ″refers primarily to the objective ruin of the evildoer″.6 David repeatedly asks God not to remember his sins (vv. 7, 11, 18). His commitment is to keep his eyes always on the Lord (v. 15) and to continue keeping the demands of His covenant (v. 10).
Notice, first, the importance of confession and repentance. David does not hide his sins, but asks the Lord to take them away (vv. 7, 11, 18). The public and private confession of our sins needs to be a regular Christian practice. When we forget our need for forgiveness, we forget the wonder of God's grace.
Secondly, David asks the Lord to ″teach me your paths″ (vv. 4, 9, 12). He knows he needs God's wisdom, revealed in the Scriptures, to continue to obey Him and remain in His love.
Thirdly, lying behind everything David writes here are the terms of God's covenant with Israel. Should His people continue to obey Him, the Lord will maintain steadfast love and faithfulness, forgive their sins, and protect them from their enemies (Exodus 34). David knows that there are two sides to a covenant. God will be faithful and protect His servant, but His servant must himself be faithful. So, David sings: ″May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you″ (Psalm 25:21, see v. 10).
Writing to the Philippians from a prison cell, Paul had a similar prayer. His hope was ″that I will in no way be ashamed″ (Philippians 1:20). Surrounded by enemies, Paul sought to remain faithful in his life and witness. More than human abuse, he dreaded standing before his Lord, ashamed that he had not kept the faith. Both Paul and David knew that this was the shame to be avoided, and so both put their trust in God.
6Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 3, s.v. ″shame″.
Why can David be confident that God will not remember the sins of his youth (Psalm 25:6-7)? Why can we as Christians have an even greater confidence in the Lord's forgiveness?
What does Psalm 25 teach us about the character of God? What confidence does this give David in what he asks from the Lord?